Toublanc (Iván Fund, 2017)

By Desistfilm staff

The Buenos Aires Film Festival (BAFICI) 2017 is over, and the Desistfilm staff has some words of closure that we’ve taken for this balance of one of the most important film festivals in Latin America.

For Pablo Gamba “Evaluating a festival like BAFICI should take into account this: when you take risks, it’s most likely that the result will surprise everyone, in a good or in a bad way. It’s a dilemma for a festival that generates so many expectations.” He also talks about Adrián Orr’s Niñato, the festival International Competition winner “while this film wasn’t previously awarded anything in other festivals, and therefore it meant that this was a localaward, this by no means mean that this was a better film than its competitors. While this films lacks no merits -a documentary that shines for its power and ability to get immersed in the intimate world of a 34-year old rapper with two kids- it isn’t quite the dazzling film you may think.”

For Gamba “the latinamerican competition, realized for the second time in the festival, still can’t find a cinema with enough mertits, a cinema that can be compared to the one which is selected and awarded by festivals such as Guadalajara and La Habana. Nevertheless, there was a title that came close to what could be this new “independent” cinema of the region:Lucas Damino and Sebastián Menegaz’ La película de Manuel. This film was extensively commented in one of the reviews published in Desistfilm.”

Aldo Padilla talks about the presence of Brazilian and Portuguese films on BAFICI “The great protagonist in this festival was the lusophone cinema (…) Joao Moreira Salles returned to cinema after over 10 years of inactivity with No intenso agora, a documentary that poses a form of dialogue between the author’s past and big political moments such as May of 68′, through archive footage. A similar amount of subtlety, this time in the terrain of fiction, was seen in the second feature film of Affonso Uchôa and João Dumans’ Arabia, a film with a sense of yearning and fatigue stored for years, a film without much movement in a minimal key of a story about the passing of time.”

Padilla also talked about the Vanguardia y Género competition. “Two films in BAFICI became the most radical proposals, films that came from Locarno, a festival which is known for its radicalspirit: João Pedro Rodrigues’ O ornitologo and Rita Azevedo Gomes’ Correspondencias. Also quite radical was the Julio Bressane’s (a director who had his own retrospective in 2013’s BAFICI) proposal with his film Beduino, presented in the Trayectorias section.

José Sarmiento Hinojosa talks about the retrospectives and cinema from other latitudes “Under this logic, the BAFICI that I experienced in this 10 days under Buenos Aires skies was mainly the festival that lives between the space-time dimensions, a festival of retrospectives, re-releases and foreign cinema.”

For Sarmiento “the best of the experimental HQ was in Bill Morrison’s Dawson City: Frozen Time and Marc Downie, Paul Kaiser, Flo Jacobs y Ken Jacobs’ Ulysses in the Subway. Both portraits of forgotten times and testimonies of filmmakers that actively resist that the decay of the image ends a type of cinema, reinventing themselves in complex narratives, like the Morrison film, or new ways of seeing, like the Jacobs, Kaiser and Downie film. Personally, one of the best moments of “Ulysses” (a disorienting film where we see a kind of “spectrogram” in 3D from NYC’s subway’s audio) was when a verse of Héctor Lavoe’s “El Cantante” leaked between the speakers of the film theater: it was a testimony of the multi cultural aspect of the city portrayed in screen, a capture of the multi-racial reality of a country like the United States, a reality that collides against the xenophobe politics of the current powers.

And About Marc Hurtado: “Marc Hurtado was another peak moment: being able to watch films like Royaume or Bleu on the big screen and to visit his latest works with the genius that was Alan Vega is testimony of a universal gesture that develops the theme of the connection between man and cosmos, a vision of nature against eros and the primary drives of life. Whether it is Jajouka or Saturn Drive, Hurtado’s work is intrinsically linked to the earth, to this fundamental function of life that begins with the insistent sound of a repetition like the heartbeat of the earth, which is manifested both in the instruments of the Musicians of Jajouka or in the first notes of Ghost Rider of Suicide. One of the great filmmakers of our times.”

Mónica Delgado shares her personal balance: “Definitely, this edition of BAFICI was marked by the spotlight dedicated to António Reis and Margarida Cordeiro, whose visual influence allowed me to have some clarity on the influences in current Portuguese cinema, that besides all aesthetic affronts maintains a tradition based in its dialogues’ virtuosity and a fantastic hybrid atmosphere.  Films with extreme lyrical beauty, that portray the rural life with a fineness rarely used nowadays, among leafy fields, provocative fruits, but also of beings lost in time, in a limbo that seems to recall the bucolic and refined side of the Middle Ages and its popular mythology. Trás-Os-Montes, Rosa de Areia, Jaime y Ana showed in a convincing way the work of this couple, where maybe Reis got more attention for his collaboration in some of Manoel de Oliveira films.”

“It seems that this final assessment of BAFICI was marked with a vision of “every past time was better”, and maybe it was, since many films watched in different competitions were quite disappointing (the Latin American competition being the most lazy of them all, but paradoxically delivering the best premiere of the festival: Alejo Moguillansky’s La vendedora de fósforos.”

“A great moment of cinema was watching Ivan Fund’s Toublanc in the Vanguardia y Genero section of BAFICI, an unconventional film that sets out complex relations about the creation, figures, random fiction interventions and literary fugues from literature, in a film that is an homage to Santa Fe’s writer Juan José Saer. Another high point was the projection of Raúl Perrone’s Cinicos, that besides its inspiration on German’s Hard to be a God, was the filmmaker’s most elaborate film in every sense, an sort of epic poem critique about the death of poetry and its possible resurrection.”

The final words from Delgado serve for a good closure of this festival: “At the end of the day, this edition of BAFICI was about stating the festival as a space to measure the pulse of Argentinian cinema, and to recover some films of mandatory watching in the region”.